Documents of Synod:
Study Papers of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (1965 to 1982)


146th GS MINUTES, MAY 14, 1968, pp. 63 - 65.

Overtures re Proficiency in Original Languages
and Failure to Exercise Office in the Ministry

REPORT OF BILLS AND OVERTURES COMMITTEE


Overture 1a: The Southern Presbytery . . . overtures the 146th General Synod . . . that:

WHEREAS there was a provision in the Form of Government of the Bible Presbyterian Church in which, "to guard against the admission of unqualified men into the sacred office, no exception shall be made to any of the educational or other requirements outlined above unless presbytery shall judge, by a three fourths vote of the members present, that the such exception is warranted by the exceptional qualifications of the candidate in question." and

WHEREAS, that exception paragraph was clearly understood to mean that presbytery had the right in an exceptional case to wave such requirements as a degree from an approved seminary or the knowledge of the original languages, and

WHEREAS, the present Form of Government of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod retains an exception paragraph as follows: "A candidate for ordination shall have completed his college and seminary training and shall have received the usual degrees thereupon. The presbytery may, by a three fourths vote of the members present, make an exception to these academic qualifications but only if it is the judgment of the presbytery that the candidate has the equivalent of such training." and
WHEREAS, the members of Southern Presbytery cannot agree whether the exception has to do with the academic qualifications themselves, or only to the manner in which the candidate has acquired these academic qualifications;
THEREFORE Synod rule whether or not the word "equivalent" in the present Form of Government ever allows a presbytery properly to ordain to the ministry a man not proficient in the original languages.

Reply to Overture 1a (from Southern Presbytery) re the Form of Government:

The Committee's reply is affirmative. "Equivalent" is felt to refer to the candidate's total preparation and qualifications and not to every specific provision. The committee also calls attention to the safeguard that a three fourths vote of the members present is required for such exceptions to be made.

Upon proper motion, the Committee's reply was adopted.

Overture 1b: from Pittsburgh Presbytery:

WHEREAS, our Form of Government (paragraph f, p. 57) states that a minister, failing to exercise the office of the ministry over a reasonable period of time, without valid reason and without apparent effort to seek the duties of a pastor, is a matter of proper presbytery concern,
AND WHEREAS presbytery is further instructed to take up with all such ministers the question of demitting the ministry,
AND WHEREAS, if the above mentioned neglect of the pastoral calling continues further action is to be taken by presbytery in dealing with the offending brother according to the stipulations of the Book of Discipline,
AND WHEREAS Titus 1:9 indicates that one of the requirements of the office of the bishop is the holding fast of the faithful word (thereby inferring a continuing activity),
AND WHEREAS, in our denomination there are presently a number of ordained men apparently engaged in full time secular employment on a permanent basis, We respectfully overture Synod to direct us in the application and enforcement of this requirement in our F. of G. by member presbyteries of the RPCES to its member ministers included in the above mentioned category (perhaps in a manner similar to that used by many congregations regarding dismissal of delinquent members.).

Reply to Overture 1b (from Pittsburgh Presbytery) re the Form of Government and Reply to the Synod Administrative Committee's recommendation No. 6:

The Committee recommends that the application and enforcement of this requirement falls under administrative discipline as defined in Chapter 1, paragraph 3, of the Bible Presbyterian Book of Discipline and in Chapter 1, paragraph 2 of the proposed Book of Discipline of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod.

Chapter V, Section 3, Question 9, p. 45 (Ordination Questions), of the Form of Government is the basis for administering the discipline.

We suggest the following as the logical steps:

First, Form of Government, Chapter V, Section 6, paragraph f, p. 57.
Second, Bible Presbyterian Book of Discipline, Chapter 1, paragraph 3, "all obligations faithfully discharged."

It is the opinion of the Committee that a minister in such a case has failed to fulfill the obligation he assumed at the time of his ordination in answering Question 9. It is also the opinion of the Committee that discipline is not only proper but necessary in such a case according to Chapter 1, Section 4, of the proposed Book of Discipline.

Therefore, we recommend that presbyteries give serious consideration to dealing with any of its ministerial members who fall in this category, and that if the person involved does not either give promise of fulfilling his ordination vows or of demitting the ministry, the presbytery would be justified in removing his name from the roll.

The service of ministers who are not pastors but who are genuinely engaged in the work of the ministry such as teaching, Christian educational or missionary administration, and evangelism at home or abroad should not be construed to be secular employment (Form of Government, Chapter V, Section 6, paragraph j, page 58).

It was moved and seconded to adopt this reply. It was moved and seconded to amend the next to last paragraph by adding after the word "roll" the following: ", and direct him to become a member of a local congregation." Motion carried. The reply, as amended, was adopted.

[Documents of Synod, pages 327-329.]

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